By Victoria Ojeme
THE first female president of an African democracy and Nobel Peace Laureate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was- and still is- a woman of incredible credentials. The Harvard alumnus had the distinct responsibility of establishing peace in her once war-torn native Liberia, one which continues to grapple with serious issues of poverty and insecurity.
The shining credentials of the Ibrahim Prize winner was blighted in no small way when she was accused of nepotism not only by political opponents but also allies such as Leeman Gbowee, her co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The latter, who resigned from the West African country’s peace and reconciliation commission was highly critical of Johnson-Sirleaf’s appointment of not one but three of her sons, in spite of stabilising the economy and virtually wiping out Foreign debt. Under her, Liberia had enjoyed annual growth rates of 6.5% for six straight years.
This same blight seems set to taint the tenure of Nigeria’s incumbent Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Pauline Tallen who appointed her daughter, Violet Osunde, as a special assistant in her office. A senior staff of the ministry told WO on the condition of anonymity,
“We started seeing the young lady towards the end of last year and when some of us asked, we discovered that she is her (Tallen’s) daughter, and has been made the SA to her mother. But come to think of it, it is a political appointment; the Minister has a right to appoint anybody she feels like”.
She however decried the practice of many ministers, who appoint their family members as their PA and SA’s. “It is not something new in Nigeria.That is why there so much unemployment in the country, because we heard that this lady left her former place of work to come and work with her mother; this her appointment would have been given to another person in an organised country”.
Tallen’s credentials as a politician and administrator are by no means shabby. A former deputy governor, Tallen won national acclaim as one of the most accomplished female politicians and public administrators living or dead on both state and national levels.